- Title: Cuban graffiti artists bring social critique to Havana's walls
- Date: 9th August 2017
- Summary: HAVANA, CUBA (AUGUST 06, 2017) (REUTERS) CARS DRIVING DOWN HAVANA'S SEAFRONT MALECON WITH MURAL, WITH GRAFFITI MURAL BY CUBAN GRAFFITI ARTIST FABIAN LOPEZ IN FOREGROUND WITH SKYLINE IN BACKGROUND MURAL WITH GRAFFITI OF HOODED MAN PAINTED BY LOPEZ AND BICITAXI PASSING BY HOODED MAN GRAFFITI PAINTING LOPEZ IN HIS STUDIO LOPEZ GRAFFITI IMAGE OF HOODED MAN HOLDING HEAD OF U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) CUBAN GRAFFITI ARTIST, FABIAN LOPEZ, SAYING: "It's now gaining a bit more strength. Hopefully, it will get more strength and not be seen as subversive or bad for society, you understand? That it be seen as art, that people can have the art to express their art in all social environments, unless it's a hotel - that's illegal. But old walls, that are destroyed and things like that, I think that's all right." DESTROYED BUILDING IN OLD HAVANA WITH GRAFFITI CUBAN GRAFFITI ARTIST YULIER RODRIGUEZ ON CORNER OF STREET IN OLD HAVANA WITH PEOPLE WALKING BY RODRIGUEZ'S GRAFFITI IN REAR WITH TRASH BINS IN FOREGROUND AND MAN AND ANTIQUE CAR PASSING BY RODRIGUEZ'S GRAFFITI ON MURAL RODRIGUEZ WALKING DOWN OLD HAVANA STREET RODRIGUEZ LOOKING AT HIS GRAFFITI RODRIGUEZ'S WORK ON WALL (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) CUBAN GRAFFITI ARTIST, YULIER RODRIGUEZ, SAYING: "In my work, you can find desperation, you can find frustration, you can find impotence, fear, pain, solitude - because they exist. They are part of reality that exists in Cuban society." RODRIGUEZ'S ART ON WALL WITH TRASH BIN IN FOREGROUND AND WOMAN WALKING BY DETAIL OF RODRIGUEZ'S GRAFFITI THAT READS 'THE HAPPY ZOMBIE' PEOPLE WALKING DOWN OLD HAVANA STREET WITH RUBBLE CUBAN GRAFFITI ARTIST OSMANY CARRATALA SKETCHING CARRATALA SIGNING HIS SKETCH 'THE HAPPY ZOMBIE' CARRATALA SKETCHING WITH PAINTING IN BACKGROUND PAINTING BY CARRATALA (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) CUBAN GRAFFITI ARTIST, OSMANY CARRATALA, SAYING: "I've seen the change (in the Cuban urban art movement) and that grown has been imminent. Young people who go out into the streets and have the ability to paint and do this perhaps because they feel a need to create art, the same need that I feel." CARRATALA'S GRAFFITI ON SIDE OF BUILDING IN OLD HAVANA WOMAN WALKING PAST CARRATALA'S GRAFFITI BUILDING AS SEEN THROUGH ARCHWAY WITH STREET SIGN THAT READS 'HABANA' WOMAN WITH UMBRELLA WALKING PAST ANTIQUE CARS WITH GRAFFITI, INCLUDED IMAGE OF REVOLUTIONARY LEADER CHE GUEVARA, PAINTED ON WALLS IN BACKGROUND GRAFFITI OF THREE FACES PAINTED ON WALL GRAFFITI IMAGE OF CHE GUEVARA ON WALL WITH BROKEN CAR MIRROR SHOWING GRAFFITI YOUNG PEOPLE WALKING DOWN OLD HAVANA STREET BUILDINGS IN OLD HAVANA WITH CAPITOL BUILDING IN REAR
- Embargoed: 23rd August 2017 16:37
- Keywords: graffiti art murals
- Location: HAVANA, CUBA
- City: HAVANA, CUBA
- Country: Cuba
- Topics: Art,Arts / Culture / Entertainment,Human Interest / Brights / Odd News
- Reuters ID: LVA0016TFQS77
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: The graffiti of alien-like beings and balaclava-clad men appearing on Havana's dilapidated walls strikes a contrast with the upbeat political slogans and effigies of Cuban revolutionaries. For a handful of young Cuban artists, these illicit creations are a means of touching on social issues in a coded way, ranging from fear of expressing oneself freely in public to growing materialism on the Communist-run island.
Graffiti was until recently uncommon in Cuba's tightly controlled public spaces. Its emergence reflects greater scope for critical expression under President Raul Castro and increasing influence of international culture as the country slowly opens. The graffiti artists say they do not consider themselves dissidents and have been mostly tolerated by authorities.
Inspired by British and American street artists Banksy and Jean-Michel Basquiat, 27-year-old Yulier Rodriguez said his creatures often have no mouth, representing Cubans' reluctance to publicly express their discontent for fear of reprisals, such as losing jobs.
The same idea is behind the balaclava-clad men of artist Fabian Lopez, whose alias is 2+2=5, meaning something is not quite right. He 20-year old stepped into the spotlight recently for a graffiti showing his character holding Donald Trump's head, reflecting Cubans' anger over the U.S. president's attitude toward opening U.S.-Cuban relations. Havana officials quickly painted over the image.
Twenty-eight-year-old artist Osmany Carratala, known for his "happy zombies" symbolizing his view that Cubans, traumatized by past poverty, are now slaves of materialistic dreams, he said graffiti artists have kept up their guard because they do not know "when authorities could put the pressure on again."
All the artists said they had been questioned by police about their political intentions, beyond accusations of vandalism that are commonly levelled against graffiti artists around the world. They said they do not directly challenge the government. Artists who do risk accusations of being counterrevolutionary and being detained.
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